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The message won't get lost this year

Who's the best player ever from Wisconsin?


Doug from Yankton, SD

Vic, I read an article on the all-time best player from each state. First, let me tell you I come from a small town in northern Wisconsin, a town where the best center that ever played the game, Mike Webster, came from. Your thoughts on who is the best football player to come out of Wisconsin?

I think J.J. Watt is on his way toward winning that distinction. Did you know what some believe is the most important touchdown in NFL history was scored by a Wisconsin native? Yep, Alan Ameche. As for Webster, I regard him to be the father of modern centers. He created the standard by which they are judged. He gave the position status it previously didn't enjoy, and I think a big part of that was a result of the cut of his shirt. If he didn't invent the form-fitting jersey linemen wear today, he certainly popularized it. I can still see him running out of that tunnel on a cold, snowy day, his bare arms bulging from a jersey that always appeared to be too small.

Edmar from Brasilia, DF

It's impossible to keep expectations low with Aaron Rodgers at the helm. How about expecting the Packers to reach the playoffs? Just get into January hot and healthy enough.

I think that should be the goal for every team. When you get there, then make the Super Bowl the goal.

Check out what happened at Packers practice. Photos by Matt Becker,

Don from Greensboro, NC

As one who was drafted to serve in Vietnam, I am totally opposed to Reynolds and Swain being allowed to defer their service and play in the NFL. Your take?

I haven't thought deeply on the subject, but it bothers me a little, and here's why: Players at service academies are paid, just as men and women in active military service are paid. Back in the days of Blanchard and Davis, and even as late as the Staubach days, a lot of college football people felt the academies enjoyed an unfair advantage; they paid their players. It was largely accepted because it was in exchange for the military commitment that would follow the players' time at their respective academies. Service academy players today receive about a thousand dollars a month. In my mind, if a player is permitted to defer his service, it's as though he was paid to play college football, and that does give the football programs at the academies what I consider to be an unfair advantage. It just doesn't taste right.

Brad from Chino Hills, CA

Vic, love your column! With the strength of schedule, would you say 12-4 is optimistic or realistic?

Your goal is to lose four games?

Glen from New York, NY

Vic, any personal thoughts on W.C. Heinz, who wrote "Run to Daylight" with Vince Lombardi?

You're talking about one of the giants of the business. Heinz was one of Lombardi's New York boys. They were proud of him and Lombardi rolled out the red carpet for them when they came to Green Bay to cover the big games. Lombardi doesn't get enough credit for his talent for promoting professional football. He was an outstanding salesman, and he was charming to the media when he needed to be. Young fans of today don't understand pro football's struggles back then. Baseball was the national pastime and football was the college game. In Don Weiss' book, "The Making of the Super Bowl," he tells of how the wire services didn't even cover the 1958 NFL title game, considered to be the greatest game ever played. Lombardi could do it all. He was the game's greatest coach, he was a wordsmith whose famous quotes live forever, and he used the influential media to promote his team, the game and himself. I miss those kinds of coaches.

Mel from Eau Claire, WI

Vic, you've written how the '60s and '70s were the dawn of modern professional football and have espoused many reasons, all of which I agree. However, I think you've missed one very important reason. These were the decades of the baby boomers reaching football fandom age. Football had a new and huge fan base ready to consume an exciting product. Without the fans, there would be no pro football and the boomers have been and continue to be the biggest base.

You're right. It's an example of the genius of Pete Rozelle. He saw a huge generation of sports fans on the horizon and he made them pro football fans. The game and the promotion of it were shaped to target the baby boomers. Pro football was bold and new, as were the boomers. The creation of NFL Films is a big part of that strategy. A PR director from back then told me of something else Pete did. At one of the annual PR meetings, Pete told the league's PR directors that if we want to be the most read professional sport, we had to be covered by the most read sports writers, and those sports writers were covering baseball. Pete told his PR directors to identify the next generation of sports writers and make them football writers. That's exactly what happened, and a lot of those sports writers are still covering the NFL. Rozelle's genius is greatly under-appreciated.

Carl from Londonderry, NH

Please, enough with the nostalgia. The good old days weren't so good for most people, and these days are much better for most.

This is the way it is and this is the way it will continue to be. You have a decision to make. I'll support whatever you decide.

Justin from Athens, GA

Did you see the National Hot Dog Council said no one should ever put ketchup on hot dogs?

The Society of Professional Journalists has been known to revoke membership to sports writers seen putting ketchup on their hot dog.

Jerry from Puyallup, WA

How would you finish this sentence? If Eddie Lacy averages 100 yards per game in December and January, the Packers …

Will win it all.

Dave from Madison, WI

How do journalists find their unnamed sources?

From years of building a relationship built on trust and truth.

Jimm from Huntsville, AL

Vic, the offensive personnel are basically the same as last year. What needs to happen to make last year an aberration?

The Packers need to win the one-on-ones. I wrote it repeatedly last fall. During the offseason, Mike McCarthy has said the same. That message got lost last season in the play-calling mania. Everybody wants to blame the plays because they can be easily changed, winning the one-on-ones can't. I don't think the message will get lost this year.

Sam from Sioux Falls, SD

Vic, Sports Illustrated had an article saying Mike McCarthy is one of the coaches with the most to prove. Do you agree because of last season's play-calling, or is that crazy considering he's racked up five division titles, eight playoff berths, seven straight playoff berths and a Super Bowl title?

There was nothing wrong with the play-calling and Coach McCarthy has nothing to prove to me. He's one of the brightest offensive minds I have ever known and his talent for directing an offense is complemented by his skill for being a leader of men. The article to which you are referring is a "Dead Zone" think piece intended to use emotion to drive readership. It's OK from an entertainment standpoint, as long as you don't regard it as gospel.

Bill from Bloomfield Hills, MI

Do you like the Raiders for their roster, or just that you know the coach? Be honest.

They've got "The Man" and the star pass rusher. That's the one-two punch that has fueled the Packers' playoff run.

Maggie from Kenosha, WI

"I'm new, but the colors are the same." As a writer, your writing is some of my favorite to read, Vic.

It pleases me when my readers get it.

Mike from North Hudson, WI

What's shaking at the Ketchman household this Memorial Day weekend?

I'm waiting to see if this storm that's bearing down on us is going to be named, and where and when it will make landfall. It will decide what I do this weekend. Be that as it may, I wish "Ask Vic" readers everywhere a safe and happy holiday weekend. This is it. Summer begins. You can begin wearing white again.

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